Marcus Mumford looked out at the still-sprawling crowd at Arroyo Seco Weekend as the English rock band he leads reached the penultimate song of its festival-closing set, and sweaty and happy like the fans on the field invite everyone to come along with Mumford & Sons for the finish.
“Let’s have a (bleepin’) dance, shall we?” Mumford shouted. The band struck up the opening notes of “I Will Wait,” one of its biggest hits, and everyone rallied to oblige.
It was fun finale for this inaugural festival held on the grounds around the Rose Bowl, with Mumford & Sons the perfect capper to a weekend of strong performances.
Opening with “Snake Eyes,” off its most recent album, 2015’s “Wilder Mind,” the band’s blend of traditional folk sounds — mandolin, fiddle, banjo — with the standard rock instrumentation was as winning as ever, the music making for a happy, uplifting feelings even when the lyrics at times deal with sorrow and loss.
“Little Lion Man,” the 2009 hit that introduced Mumford & Sons to listeners, followed, and it already felt like a more joyful night than that of the Saturday headlining turn by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers. No disrespect to Petty and Co., for they played their songs impeccably — and they’re wonderful songs at that.
But Mumford is a more naturally personable front man than Petty, quicker to engage the audience, more revealing of how excited he and his band mates were to be performing. (Then again, the fact that the crowds that annoyed me so on Saturday felt a bit less claustrophobic on Sunday might also have played a role here.)
Other highlights early in the set included “White Blank Page,” which opened with lovely harmony vocals before building to a rousing close, and “Thistle & Weed,”…